When it comes to creating culinary magic, your kitchen can be friend—or foe. Whether it’s tupperware falling on your head every time you go looking for a pan or a stove shoved in a poky corner (where you can’t open the oven or the fridge at the same time), we’re all just one irritating design flaw away from pulling out the delivery app.
But what if it were possible to have a kitchen that works for you (not against you!) without, say, gutting the entire thing and starting from scratch? That’s where Vijaya Selvaraju comes in. As a self-taught cook who’s honed her skills to become a sought-after tastemaker (including as the cooking expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Your Morning), she knows all about optimizing a home kitchen for real life.
Selvaraju, in partnership with KitchenAid, has just done a complete overhaul of her own home kitchen so it’s a topic that’s top of mind for her. “I like keeping things as simple as possible,” she says. “Cooking is like a dance, and I want to make sure that I can be as elegant as possible with the best flow.”
Her post-reno MVP so far? “I love my KitchenAid Commercial-Style Range. A six-burner gas stove is a real work horse in the kitchen,” she says. No matter what she’s cooking up, her appliances have kept up—both in style, sparking inspiration, and function: “I can have a sauce going on one burner, pasta boiling on another and veggies steaming for my baby on another, and still have three burners left to make whatever else my heart desires.”
Here are Selvaraju’s best hacks for making the most of the space you’ve got, optimizing functionality and inspiring you to get cooking. Bon appetit!
#1. Make sure you’ve got the right appliance for the job
Not all appliances are created equal, says Selvaraju. “While I had a large fridge, it was often hard to sort through everything to find exactly what I needed since so much was pushed to the back,” she explains. “With my current KitchenAid Multi-Door Fridge, storage is optimized with a five-door configuration that allows me to put all my food in ready sight and easy reach.”
A fridge like this one, which comes with all the drawers and shelves an organizer could ever dream of, also helps to cut down on food waste, because you often don’t use what you can see. “It comes with the Preserva Food Care System which helps keep food fresher longer. It also comes with the Fresh Flow Air Filter which helps minimize odours. Goodbye baking soda!” Selvaraju adds.
Similarly, she found that, as someone who goes through a lot of dishes, the KitchenAid FreeFlex Third Rack Dishwasher was a game-changer compared to the one she’d had before. “It’s incredibly spacious, and can house tons of dirty dishes. Moreover, the addition of the third rack is genius as I can load more glasses, mugs, and bowls than I can in a conventional dishwasher.”
#2. Make time and space for prep, and thank yourself later
A little prep work can go a long way in establishing a flow that works for you. Selvaraju encourages us to find efficiencies wherever we can—starting with “mise en place,” which is a makers term for making sure you’ve got all your ingredients prepped before you turn on the stove. “With all your ingredients chopped and measured out, cooking takes a fraction of the time it would if you prepped all the ingredients on the fly.”
#3. Take advantage of tech
“I’m a new mom, and over the last year I’ve really come to understand and appreciate the meaning of time,” says Selvaraju. Little hacks, like using smart appliances, can let you multitask and focus more on what really matters. For example, the KitchenAid Commercial Style Range can be controlled hands-free from your phone using Google Assistant or remotely through the KitchenAid App. “From preheating, to proofing, roasting, baking and saving recipes, you don’t even have to be in your kitchen to jumpstart recipes,” says Selvaraju. Think of this: You could get dinner going while you’re on a work call in the next room!
#4. Hone in on how you *really* use your kitchen—and get decluttering
Maybe it’s that blender you’ve had on the countertop since you decided you wanted to be a smoothie person in 2017…and haven’t touched since. Or perhaps it’s realizing that you spend half your time walking between the stove and the fridge because they’re on opposite sides of the room. Either way, you need to get to grips with how you really use your kitchen—and ruthlessly ditch anything that interferes with that.
“Take a look at the layout of your kitchen, and observe your movement within the space. Make adjustments so that you can pivot to attain the things you need without moving too far,” says Selvaraju, who recently installed a pot-filler to cut down on trips to the sink. “Also take inventory of all the tools and appliances you have on hand, and concentrate on only those you need most and use regularly. The less clutter your work space has, the more efficient it will be.”
#5. Add a dash of inspiration
That old saying “you eat with your eyes first” also applies when it comes to kitchen inspiration. “Surround yourself with beautiful cookbooks that feature dishes you’re excited to eat,” advises Selvaraju. Design your kitchen with appliances that will inspire, “purchase the pretty dishware and linens, and treat yourself to that knife you always wanted. Fill your fridge with fresh seasonal produce, and interesting fun ingredients.”
And most importantly, she says? “Make your kitchen your space.” Create an environment that sparks new flavours and never-before-used ingredients by designing your kitchen personal to your style. Whether you’re going for cottage-country charm or contemporary top-to-bottom, KitchenAid’s commercial style-range comes in nine distinct colours for an accented pop. “The more comfortable you are, the more inclined you’ll be to cook.”